There’s an App for That: University of Michigan Releases Skin Cancer Self-Audit App

Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Published Online: Thursday, September 27, 2012
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The app for iPhone and iPad allows users to use whole body photography to track moles that may develop into melanoma.

The University of Michigan has released a new app for iPhone and iPad to help patients track moles that may develop into melanoma. The app was developed to make whole body photography—an important but underutilized tool to track melanoma—easier.
Users can download the app, called UMSKinCheck, from the iTunes store for free. The app first prompts users to set a reminder to take a new set of photos in the next 30 and 90 days. Next, the app directs users to take photos from 23 different positions. The directions are very specific, and a friend or family member is needed to take the photos. These photos are stored as a baseline and can be compared to future photos.
The app also provides information about melanoma. One section includes pictures demonstrating the ABCDs of melanoma (Asymmetry, Border, Color, and Difference). Another section shows photos of common skin lesions. A third section offers helpful sun safety tips. (Eg, “If your shadow appears shorter than you are, seek shade.”)
Another tool allows users to calculate their risk by entering personal information and history, such as geographic region, sex, race, age, complexion, number and size of moles, back freckling, etc. For example, changing gender information from female to male (and keeping other factors constant) added a question about history of blistering sunburns. As it’s configured now, this tool can only calculate risk for non-Hispanic whites.

Ms. Wick is a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy and a freelance writer from Virginia.

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